HPE sets up open 5G lab with Intel, Nokia and six others

HPE sets up open 5G lab with Intel, Nokia and six others

23 July 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Eight companies have got together to support a new 5G lab that is being set up by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), aimed to develop, test and integrate open 5G solutions.

The eight partners in the HPE 5G Lab – as well as HPE itself – are Affirmed Networks, Casa Systems, Intel, JMA Wireless, Metaswitch, Nokia, Openet and Red Hat.

This appears to be the boldest effort yet to create a new partnership to advance technology for new wireless networks.

Phil Mottram (pictured), vice president and general manager of communications and media solutions at HPE, said: “Governments and telecoms operators around the world are looking to open 5G technologies as an opportunity to move away from a number of vendors which have raised fundamental concerns around security, resilience and market diversification.”

HPE had recruited only six companies for the 5G lab only days ago, but JMA Wireless and Nokia are latecomers to the alliance.

The grouping includes one UK company, Metaswitch, based in north London. Microsoft agreed in May to buy Metaswitch for an undisclosed price.

Mottram warned that, “despite multiple successful deployments, doubts still persist about the ability of open 5G technologies to truly replace the old way of building networks”.

He added: “With the launch of the HPE 5G Lab, telcos, solution vendors and national stakeholders can test innovative new solutions with confidence and ensure that they are ready for mass adoption.”

In March Capacity asked Mottram whether it would be possible to build a 5G network without using the big three traditional network equipment providers. “Absolutely,” said Mottram, a former Telstra, Vodafone and then Zayo executive, who joined HPE a year ago as VP of the company’s communications division. However, the new lab does have one of the big three, Nokia, as a partner. 

HPE pointed out that “5G standards have been designed so telcos can build their 5G networks with open, cloud-native platforms that utilise modular software and hardware components from different vendors, allowing them to deploy new 5G services faster, more securely and in a more flexible way”.

The company, which split almost five years ago from the original Hewlett-Packard, said: “This represents a big shift in a market that previously relied on proprietary, vertically-integrated systems. In order to embrace this shift with confidence and assurance, telcos are looking to work with trusted and proven partners that can demonstrate performance and interoperability in a live, real-time test environment.”

HPE 5G Lab is at Fort Collins, Colorado, about 50km north of Denver. It “is available worldwide to customers and HPE partners via remote access and includes the provision of personnel to manage and operate the lab environment, as well as assist with integration and testing”, said the company. “The lab is based around HPE 5G portfolio solutions and will include multiple 5G related products and solutions.”